There are many people who are put off by a trip to Scandinavian countries due to the higher cost of living and also, the much colder climate. However, in my opinion, Scandinavia should not be discarded. Here are my top 5 experiences which I hope will change your mind!
- Chasing the Northern Lights in Tromø, Norway
By far my favourite northern adventure was my trip to Tromsø in 2019. The whole reason I chose to venture to the Artic Circle in December was with the aim of viewing the Northern Lights. Seeing the lights always feels down to luck with factors such as cloud coverage and time of year affecting your chances of seeing them. They say that Tromsø is the place where you have the most probability of seeing them so that’s why I chose the city. I was pleasantly surprised by the city itself- a complete winter wonderland with welcoming people and cool architecture. Our attempt at seeing the Aurora Borealis took two nights with the first resulting in us sitting in a dark field with cheap hot chocolate and returning back to our rental house unsuccessful and deflated. The second seemed to be going the same way until suddenly, in the early hours of the morning, we struck aurora gold and found them near a beautiful lake. Seeing the northern lights was a bucketlist item of mine and I will never forget the feeling of seeing the green lights dancing and wiggling above my head. The lights rarely look as they do on all the pictures on the internet but it’s still an incredible experience that you can spend many a trip chasing so I feel lucky to have found them on my first attempt.
2. Helsinki, Finland
Of course when referencing Scandinavia, Finland is sometimes counted, sometimes not- for the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to count it! I really enjoyed my trip to the Finnish capital even if it was short and tiring ( a five hour flight there and back for a night). We got really lucky that we arrived on what seemed to be the first warm day of the year and everybody was out enjoying the weather. Helsinki has not one, but two cathedrals both differing in styles which I enjoyed exploring along with the underground Rock Church and Suomenlinna fortress. There is plenty to do in Helsinki and it’s a very easy city to navigate.
3. Copenhagen, Denmark
The trip to Copenhagen was a cold one in February 2018 and the city was covered in snow. I find now, travelling from Southern Spain, I find myself getting excited heading to colder countries and snow! Copenhagen is a really beautiful city and with so many coffee shops, there’s always time to grab a coffee/ hot chocolate and a famous Danish pastry to warm up! My highlights of Copenhagen were, of course, the famous Nyhavn street and Rosenborg castle (see below). The Little Mermaid is another famous Danish attraction although getting a photo of it without a crowd is an accomplishment in itself!
4. Oslo, Norway
The Norwegian capital was a little more industrial than I expected but I did grow to love it. After a rocky start (my travel companion nearly missed his flight and I was preparing myself for another solo trip), I found that Oslo has a lot to offer. I made my first mistake with my wardrobe thinking that 15 degrees in Oslo wouldn’t be that cold and my first visit in the city was a trip to HnM to buy a jumper and gloves. Norway is of course famous for its sweeping Fjords (still to do on my bucketlist) so we did a short cruise along the mini Oslofjorden hoping to get a smaller version of the might of the Fjords. Unfortunately they aren’t quite as impressive as their famous counterparts but it was still a good way to see the city from afar. My favourite things to do were walking up the roof of the Opera House and visiting the sculpture parks which have great views and interesting works.
5. Stockholm, Sweden.
I am very lucky that one of my best friends and favourite travel buddies happens to live in Stockholm. We planned a Balkan adventure so before we started, I flew out to Stockholm (that’s on the way to the Balkans right). The city had that old historic feel and I got to experience the famous Scandinavian summers of long days and 3am sunrises. I admit that I didn’t fall in love as much with Stockholm as I did with some of the other capitals but it was still a great place to visit and explore, which I am sure I will do again in the near future to catch up with my favourite person after being apart for two years due to covid-19.
As you can see, most of my Scandinavian expriences have been the capitals and I definitely intend to go back to explore more cities. I also have the islands firmly on my list (Faroe and Lofoten). I have found that Scandinavia doesn’t have to be expensive. If you want to stay in big hotels and eat fresh fish every day then yes, you will probably run up quite a bill but you can also search for cheaper apartments and more reasonably priced restaurants to cut costs. If you’re firmly against the cold, then don’t forget that summers in Scandinavia can be warm and beautiful with endless daylight! Even so, the cold is definitely worth dealing with if it means you get a glimpse of the Northern lights!